NC Prison system starts staff COVID-19 testing pilot project

Published: Oct. 12, 2020 at 7:28 PM EDT
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WITN) - The Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice Prisons will test all staff at three prisons in a pilot project aimed at improving staff health and safety, as well as reducing the potential for the spread of COVID-19 at the facilities.

This required staff testing started Monday and will be conducted at the Dan River Prison Work Farm, Scotland Correctional and Greene Correctional institutions.

The facilities were chosen because they feature one dormitory-style housing facility, one single-cell housing facility, and because Greene Correctional houses a COVID-vulnerable offender population with pre-existing medical conditions. They also all have COVID-19 outbreaks.

Currently, 74 offenders have active cases of COVID-19 at Dan River, while 33 offenders have active cases at Greene Correctional and 101 offenders have active cases at Scotland Correctional. A total of 58 staff at the three facilities combined are currently off the job with active cases of COVID-19. Around 170 staff work at the Dan River facility while around 500 work at Scotland Correctional and almost 200 work at Greene Correctional.

In this pilot testing project, staff currently working inside the three facilities will self-administer an intra-nasal swab test provided by LabCorp and place the samples in a drop box. Instructions will be provided to the staff on how to properly take the samples. There is no cost to staff for the testing.

LabCorp will report positive test results to ACJJ-Prisons Administration and to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, which will report the results to the local public health departments, so they can investigate any communicable disease outbreaks, as required by law, and conduct contact tracing as necessary.

Staff who test positive must remain off the job until they meet the criteria to be considered presumed recovered established by the Centers for Disease Control and the NCDHHS. Once an initial round of testing is completed, Prisons' leadership will review the COVID-19 positivity rates at each prison to determine how to continue with additional staff testing.

Copyright 2020 WITN. All rights reserved.

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